Medical experts speak on high suicide rate in Nigeria, suggest solutions

Suicide rope used to illustrate the story.
Suicide rope used to illustrate the story.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) in its recent report says 800,000 people commit suicide every year across the world.

WHO’s 2016 Global Health Observatory Data Repository, also estimates that 9.5 suicides per 100,000 occur in Nigeria.

The worry is that suicide continues to be on the rise, though it is a criminal offence in Nigeria. According to Section 327 of the Criminal Code, attempted suicide remains criminalised and the victim risks imprisonment for one year.

Besides the usual reasons adduced as the causes of suicide, Olayinka Atilola, a Consultant Psychiatrist, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), said mental health problem can also be responsible.

According to him, most people who commit suicide could do that as a result of a mental health problem or a psycho-social problem

The psychiatrist listed psycho-social problems to include: anxiety, depression, hostility, hopelessness, which exist at the individual level, among others.

He called on the government to ensure the provision of mental health service in each of the primary health care centres across the country.

This, according to him, will provide a means of helping those who might want to attempt suicide, adding that the best approach to combat suicide is to provide psychiatric help.

“The federal and state governments should endeavour to have a programme that will allow people to talk about their health problems and other challenges of life that are daily confronting them which can serve as impetus to committing suicide.”

He noted that one of the causes of suicide is the increase in urban migration, which according to him, can cause an increase in psycho-social problems.

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Mr Atilola also listed the signs of depression as: sustain unhappiness, losing interest in those things that earlier interest you, a feeling of consistent downiness and loss of appetite

According to him, mental health and depression cut across ages, group and strata.

Funmi Akinola, a Consultant Psychiatrist, said that failed relationship, sexual and physical assault, financial challenges, among others, could also force one to take his or her life.

She noted that these factors can have emotional effects on an individual when they become so overwhelming and they seem to have no option than to take their lives.

Ms Akinola called on the government to think of establishing a hotline strictly for those who may be contemplating suicide.

Haruna Abdullahi, publisher of World Entourage Magazine, while recounting his experience in a suicide attempt, said that the moment he lost his mother he became `empty and sullen.’

“I took to adulthood early in life in order to make my mother happy. I got married early to make her a grandmother.’’

According to him, life became torturing, bitter and fearful, when his mother died,

“Nothing interests me anymore, I became withdrawn, and I dropped in weight and zest, I was losing sleep, food became poisonous to me.’’

He stated that the world later became very uninteresting, adding that his mind was more for an end to “follow his mother to where she hurriedly went to.’’

Bunmi Gabriel, a counsellor and a minister in the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), said that taking someone’s life as a result of depression will rather compound the problem than solve it, noting that time heals all wounds.

He noted that suicide could be both physical and spiritual, stating that physical depression could emanate as a result of not achieving one’s target as and when due.

“People should be encouraged to meet people and talk to them about their experiences, especially those of the same age bracket or those that are older who can relate with them some of the things they have passed through in life.”

He stressed the need for people to go out and associate with people either in church, community meeting, social gathering, where they can meet and share their experiences.

Adedotun Ajiboye, Clinical Psychologist with Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital, Ado-Ekiti, advised relations, friends and colleagues of persons suffering from depression to be extra vigilant to avert incidents of suicide.

Mr Ajiboye noted that people who suffered depression had the tendency to become suicidal, while calling on friends and relation to always be proactive once they identify that a person is suicidal, adding that they should not be allowed to stay alone.

He also said that terminal medical condition, poverty, among others, are factors that often lead people to commit suicide.

He called for close monitoring of persons with depression in addition to taking them to see a psychiatrist who would prescribe anti-depressant drugs and follow up on such patients.

Mr Ajiboye also advised that harmful objects such as knives should be kept away from people suffering from depression.

He advised that people should be their brother’s keepers, especially in the religious circles, saying that they should have welfare packages for people in these times of economic hardship.

Read also: How late OAU student first attempted suicide – Authorities

“People are passing through a lot of tough times and they may not want to share their experiences, so religious leaders must learn to engage people.

“We must call our loved ones regularly to check on their welfare and see how we can be of assistance, you do not know if that call will just save a life,’’ the psychologist said.

He also advised people who were faced with some challenges to learn to share their problems, saying “a problem shared is a problem half solved.’’

Mr Ajiboye explained that an unstable mental condition was one of the factors that could make an individual to consider committing suicide.

Ninyo Omidiji, a psychiatrist, reiterated that suicide is the third leading cause of death especially among young people world over.

According to him, you might have been horrified by homicide, but the number of people who kill themselves outnumber the number of those who die from homicide.

Mr Omidiji said that “WHO stated that every passing 40 seconds, somebody somewhere is killing himself and for every completed suicide, there are about 20 other attempts at suicide that survived.’’

According to him, suicide is not an occasional spree, but are popularised, when a few cases are sensationalised by the media.

He called on Nigerians to be more kind and steadily supportive of one another, stating that social disintegration in the face of hard times is a contributory factor to suicide.

The psychiatrist expressed worry that persons who contemplate suicide hardly get the needed sympathy, especially in developing nations like Nigeria.

According to him, in Nigeria the subsisting law of the land still stipulates a one year jail term for a survivor of suicide attempt, stating that the provision is ridiculous for someone that needs help. (NANFeatures)

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